(USA Today Sports) -- Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig will formally announce Thursday he's stepping down after the 2014 season.
Selig, 79, who took over as interim commissioner in 1992 after owners forced out then-commissioner Fay Vincent, was named to the permanent job in 1998. He announced two years ago that the 2014 season would be his last, and owners believed it this time.
Now, he will formalize the end of his reign in January 2015.
"It remains my great privilege to serve the game I have loved throughout my life," Selig said in a written statement. "Baseball is the greatest game ever invented, and I look forward to continuing its extraordinary growth and addressing several significant issues during the remainder of my term.
"I am grateful to the owners throughout Major League Baseball for their unwavering support and for allowing me to lead this great institution. I thank our players, who give me unlimited enthusiasm about the future of our game. Together we have taken this sport to new heights and have positioned our national pastime to thrive for generations to come. Most of all, I would like to thank our fans, who are the heart and soul of our game."
Selig presided over an era of unprecedented growth - MLB is now a $9 billion industry - but also multiple labor battles with the players' union, including one that resulted in the cancellation of the 1994 World Series. And it also spanned the period loosely known as baseball's Steroid Era, a tag that began to fade once the league and union collectively bargained for drug testing after the 2002 season, a policy that has gained greater teeth in subsequent years.
Selig recently has been proud to note that baseball has the toughest drug-testing policy in North America's four major sports.